Google’s Biggest Hurdle to World Domination

13 12 2007

Goo – what? Chinese can’t pronounce Google.

Interesting article here from Bloomberg that explores a huge problem that Google faces in China. People can’t pronounce the now ubiquitous verb.

In the annals of advertising history we have a number of comedic stories such as the latin Nova launch fiasco, and the debatable Gerbers selling ground babies in Africa tale. These were always cute stories, used to get a chuckle from intro level marketing students, but it is indeed a difficult issue that global brands need to contend with.

Web companies names like Yahoo! were hailed as perfect for international expansion as they were very phonetic and didn’t have clearly defined meanings.  As internet penetration in China increases rapidly, entrepreneurs and conglomerates alike need to start rethinking their naming processes. China also appears to a be unique as for some reason many 2.0 names roll off the tongue in a cutesy way in Japanese.

Can any readers weigh in on other languages?


How Google’s OpenSocial Will Revolutionize Community Targeting

31 10 2007

Community based targeting accommodates multiple, mutually exclusive and compounding brand messages to be expressed.

OpenSocial will spur the development of micro-social networks that will be tied together on the backend, facilitating the seamless movement of users from community to community. This in turn will create an umbrella system where I have an over arcing super-identity, but express multiple aspects of it through the micro-communities I join.

Your first question is probably: Well I can already do that with groups in Myspace and Facebook. Wrong.

Let me explain. Groups on mass social networks are usually merely badges that signify affiliation. Interaction on these groups is relatively low as the barrier for entry is low. Being part of micro-communities is a far greater commitment as one has a reputation that resides in the space that needs to be maintained. Thus, the people in micro-communities are the hardcore, the key influencers, and people with intent. If you are a regular reader you have read my rants on intent based advertising. The citizens of micro-communities are there to acquire information on a subject, share information, and interact with a small subset of passionistas. Micro-communities are places of intent, thus targeting messages to these communities can be very effective.

What kind of messages you ask?

Messages that provide utility. Provide them information, insights, discounts, group buys, or branded widgets, that are also portable throughout OpenSocial. Don’t be their friend, cause they don’t want to be yours, but provide a service and they will appreciate it.

Still wanna work with banner ads?

Let the community shepard/s select the messages. Align your interests. Parse the site, give them a selection of relevant ads and let them choose the ones they feel will resonate the most with their community. More clicks = more money for the shepard/s. In addition, they feel empowered, and a little empowerment goes a long way. Finally, no one person, marketer, or algorithm know a community better than their shepard/s.

Alright so what do I mean by, community based targeting accommodates multiple, mutually exclusive and compounding brand messages to be expressed?

Well in the age of mass media – TV, Radio, Print, and Portals – brands were forced to pick one message they felt would resonate with the largest group of people and blast it. That is no longer the case. Now I believe there still needs to be one all encompassing theme, but now you can target communities with unique messages. Bear with me here.

Imagine the Venn Diagram at the top of the post, and imagine that each circle represents a different community. Now the advertiser disseminates 3 different messages that highlight different aspects of a widget that resonates strongest with each community. If am a member of community A I get sent message A and it makes sense to me and I am not exposed to messages B and C as these communities are mutually exclusive for me. There might be crossover with some members that might spread messages between communities, but since I don’t care much for the information I would bypass it. This keeps message A clear and undiluted, thus more effective. Now the other scenario is I am a member of all 3 communities. In this case I care about all three messages and thus they compound and build an even stronger pitch to the user.

This is the power of community targeting, it allows brands to transition from a OR world where a brand has to be X OR Y, to a world where brand can be X AND Y AND Z.

Finally, these citizens of micro-communities are influencers and will continue to spread your message in a way that makes sense to their audience. If I am a tech aficionado and reside in multiple tech micro-communities and have received 3 compounding messages, when I am communicating the message to say my nephew who wants a new laptop I will relay the messages that make the most sense to him; thus, you have a multi-tiered message filtering system. The more messages that make sense to the influencers the more ammo they have when pitching it down the line.

Very curious to hear everyone’s thoughts.

The Privacy Battle: AOL Casts The First Stone

31 10 2007

AOL seeks to demystify the targeting blackbox.

AOL announced today that it wants to educate consumers on the benefits of targeted advertising a day before the FTC convenes to discuss the subject of online privacy and online ad targeting.

Sorry guys, but targeted ads don’t provide me any utility. This conversation is linked to a previous post concerning intent based advertising. Google‘s contextual system does in fact provide a bit of a service as it provide ads that are relevant to information I am seeking. Just because I like watches doesn’t mean I want to be hawked watches when looking for a new car.

I’m interested to see how they plan to pitch us on the virtues of targeted ads.

On another note, a privacy advocate group is pushing a national do-not-track list.

Full article here via Ad Age.

The Ultimate Betrayal: Facebook’s SocialAds Hawks Your Identity

31 10 2007

As targeting permeates the online ad world, privacy will become the central issue.

We live in a world today where the online advertising networks are all rushing to provide us the service of targeted advertising. Thanks guys, appreciate it.

However, the question remains, where are they getting the information???

There are a number of models out there such as cookies tracking what sites you visit, contextual targeting (like Google), and the new buzzword Behavioral targeting being pushed by Tacoda (Read about the basics here).

Of course the talk of the town right now is Facebook‘s new SocialAds platform, which is inherently different because they are using user-provided personal information for targeting vs. information gathered in the background, or through requested information as in search. This is a direct betrayal of the user base. We provided Facebook our most personal information so that we can connect with our peers, not to have it hawked to the highest bidder.

People have even had their accounts disabled for not providing accurate information.

At this point we know little of how privacy will be incorporated, if at all, however, I am announcing here that I will leave the platform if my information is betrayed.

The Holy Grail of Social Media: Google Incubator

25 10 2007

Orkut + Google Tools + Spock = Social Networks + Collaboration Enablers + People Search = The Holy Grail

My money is on Google for long term dominance of the collaboration and social networking space. I’m waiting to see how they will position Orkut and roll it out, but the killer app in this space has always been the convergence of collaboration tools, people search, and social networks.

I call this the Google Incubator. It is about connecting people with ideas, and enabling them.

The mantra of innovation is People, People, People. However, the biggest barrier for getting an idea off the ground is finding the right people.

Imagine this scenario:

You are taking a shower one day and have a great idea. You build a private group on Orkut and start to flesh it out. Then you run a search for people that have opted in for incubator projects to build a team. You search of a Ajax developer with 5 years of experience and a conversational marketer familiar with teens. The bot parses through all of the data on Orkut’s profiles and spits back a list of qualified people. You then send out invites and have an ad hoc team, which Google’s productivity tools bring together.

Talent today is geo-agnostic and so are ideas. Google Incubator could be the world’s biggest innovation factory and a VCs wet dream.

My 2 cents.

Naming 2.0: The New Media Naming Storm

25 10 2007

2.0-tization of names is a barrier to adoption.

This is a bit of rant, but I had to get it off my chest. Everyday, I login to G-reader, click on my feed for technology news and I’m assaulted by 500 new companies with gibberish names. Most of them sound the same and with the glut of new 2.0 companies who can remember them all.

Well what about Google and Yahoo?

They came around in a far less crowded environment. In addition, Google is a media darling and Yahoo spent hundreds of millions on advertising.

Also, they are phonetic.

I’m in the process of developing a fashion based social shopping site and I know how hard it is to find a URL that isn’t being squatted on. But, honestly how many properties do we need that drop the E in -ER.  Now it may make perfect sense to people in the space and you can always pop into CrunchBase, but it is another case of developers naming for other developers.

Have some fun with the WEB 2.0 NAME GENERATOR.

Here’s what it spit out:


The Power of Google over Facebook: Advertising at the Point of Intent

24 10 2007

Hyper-targeting isn’t the solution.  The holy grail is placing ads at the point of intent.

The success of Google in the search advertising realm is of course facilitated by their contextual engine; however, the reason why their pay per click model works is that they control the moment of intent. When people are searching they are actively seeking out information. In the same vein Amazon recommends books that are similar to the one I chose right before checkout. They get me every time, I never leave the Amazon site without purchasing 2 or 3 more books than I originally intended.

Targeted ads are a step forward, but over hyped.

Facebook just announced its new advertising platform that can target anyone on the network by political affiliation, gender, location, or anyone of the keywords on one’s profile. Your experience might be different, but I’ve never paid attention to a single ad on the network EVER. Not because it wasn’t relevant, but because I wasn’t in a receptive state. I am on Facebook to communicate with friends or catch up on the new feed. I simply disregard all the ads displayed on the site. For me this is consistent with most display ads online. The fact that I’m reading an article on trucks doesn’t mean I’m looking to buy a Dodge. Granted it increases the likely-hood of clicking on the ad, but the key to place display ads in places where the customer already has intent. For example place the Dodge ads on a car review site.

Feel free to disagree with me, but I’m not one to preach a 100% transition away from mass media. I still believe that for increasing overall awareness of a brand or product, mass blasts can be effective. I also absolutely believe that marketers need to reach out to influencers and communities; however, general awareness helps grease the wheels. For example when an influencer recommends a brand and their audience has already heard of the brand it just makes the sell that much easier. An added benefit of a national spot is a level of security it provides customers. Launching a product by spamming banners across the range of sites might be be cheaper for the same amount of eyeballs, but is drastically less effective.